In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Allied and German forces put down their weapons until a peace resolution could be reached. A year later to the day, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 Armistice Day. It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
Likewise, Angelus Academy in Springfield began its Veterans Day Mass at the 11th hour. Veteran parents and grandparents joined the students to honor those who have served in the U.S. military.
They show us courage that the Lord expects of each and every one of us.
“I think it shows respect and love for our country and helps increase the patriotism of the students and all the people who attend,” said Fred Kemp, an Army veteran and the grandfather of several Angelus alumni. In the 16 years since the school’s founding, he’s come to many of the Veterans Day Masses. “I’m so happy to come back. ... It’s such a wonderful school.”
Sixth-grader Patrick Donovan, who served at the Mass, has two veteran parents who attended — his dad was in the Navy and his mom was in the Army. He enjoys the patriotic holidays because, “it’s a time when our entire family is happy. We’re all together,” he said.
Parent Mary Hansen and her husband, Anthony, are both veterans as well — retired Air Force and active duty Navy, respectively. She’s proud that patriotism, along with prayer, leadership and service, is one of core principles at Angelus. The Veterans Day Mass, she said, “makes the military real to (the children). … They see the parents as other than just Mom and Dad and Mr. and Mrs. So and So.”
Almost two dozen veterans attended the Mass and participated by carrying the American and Vatican flags and the gifts. After the Mass, they received a special blessing from Father Daniel S. Spychala, parochial vicar of St. Lawrence Church in Alexandria. Groups of students then took turns singing songs such as, “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” while saluting the audience and marching in place.
In his homily, Father Spychala spoke about the saintly veteran, St. Martin of Tours, whose feast day is Nov. 11. He thanked the veterans. “By their courageous service, we are able to live in a free world,” he said. “They served not only us but God in showing their love and care for other people. … They show us courage that the Lord expects of each and every one of us.”